Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reunited, At Last!

At long last, My McVansion and I have been reunited. Yes! Today I picked up my home and my wheels at the engine hospital. It is 55 days today since I admitted the patient to the engine hospital for a "heart" rebuild.

It has ended up being one huge misadventure, but that's a part of what life on the road is all about. If you recall, last year about this time I was in Georgia when the right rear wheel bearing went out and had damaged the axle. With thanks to one, David Hair, who actually performed field surgery on My McVansion in the Home Depot parking lot in Blue Ridge, Georgia. I was then able to bring the patient to its regular general mechanical practitioner in Winchester, Virginia.

This particular engine problem threw everyone a curve. I'm not going to go into details now. Wilson, the head surgeon at the One Stop Engine Rebuilding and Auto Repair business, told me that most of the vehicles that come in for engine work display two major issues. One issue is that the engine was run without coolant and overheated. The other is that the engine was run without oil in the crankcase. My McVansion had not been overheated and the temperature gauge was right on the nose. And, the synthetic oil I always use was right up to where it belonged and the oil pressure was perfect.

Yet, something caused the engine to fail and whatever it was kept itself hidden. After the engine was fully rebuilt once and then partially rebuilt a second time, everything was running fine except for one serious glitch. When the engine reached operating temperature and was run over 1500 rpm, the exhaust manifolds would glow cherry red. Meanwhile the rest of the engine was running at the appropriate temperature. This problem has been eluding us for weeks.

There was some half serious talk about calling Ghost Busters or a priest to perform an exorcism on the engine. I seriously had several people around the U.S. with considerable expertise in combustion engines sending me thoughts, ideas and suggestions as to how to find the "demon." My old college friend, Greg Cordano, back in my home state of New Jersey was losing sleep over this problem. He sent me nearly daily emails with suggestions as to where the problem might be.

I have to commend Wilson and his terrific team of ASE certified engine technicians. They are a dedicated and tenacious group. I know there were times when they just wanted to throw in the towel. But, they hung in there. Wilson was calling in favors from other friends at other shops that specialized in parts of the engine that weren't his forte.

Finally, Wilson took the van to a fellow who specializes in the electrical/electronic aspects of modern engines. He had very expensive, specialized equipment and training in all the sensors and the main computer that runs modern engines. I consider him an automotive neurosurgeon. The demon was finally revealed and vanquished.

So, today, I picked up My McVansion at about 1:30 PM and brought it back to my son's place where I've been enjoying spending time with my son. But, I feel I have reluctantly overstayed my visit, though my son and been extremely gracious and supportive. Pete is in the process of packing and moving his stuff to storage since he has to move. Getting my van back was becoming urgent. Thankfully, it seems to have happened just in the nick of time. He has another place already, but it won't be ready until May 1st. So, he's taking a short sabbatical from his job and heading to Turkey and other parts of eastern Europe on one of his global (albeit, short) treks.

I spent the afternoon happily reinstalling my electronics - navigation, communication, entertainment and dash cam documentation equipment, routing and dressing wires and power and getting the cockpit ready to venture back onto the highways and byways of America. It will probably be the middle of next week, around March 4th or so before I actually hit the road.

But, I am one happy camper this quiet Saturday evening and I feel "complete" again. Yeah! I know, a van is not a warm, cuddly companion (certainly something to be desired), but it is my home and my "magic carpet." And like Dorothy said as she clicked her ruby shoes together, "There's no place like home."  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week - Beauty In The Macro World - Rain Drops On Roses, Anywhere, Any Time

Something a bit different this week for the photo-of-the-week. Well, no, these are not raindrops on roses. They are raindrops on grass blades. It seems, in our busy and complicated world, we so often bypass much of the beauty and peace provided by nature. We are too busy rushing to work, to go shopping, to the kids' school events and athletic activities and so many other activities involving family, friends and others who place demands on our lives that we miss some of the most beautiful and, often, meaningful things all around us. . . READ MORE

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Living Free From The Inner Man - Guest Post from Richard Rosen

Living free from the burdens and entrapments of things material is the outward expression of the inner man living free. What does it mean to live free inwardly? Daily walking in alignment with your Spirit. (Religion terms it guardian angel or divine spirit.) Each of us has a connection to a personal guiding spirit that enables us to perceive  what’s right. 

For a practical way to do determine what choice to make, try this: . . READ MORE

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #198 Over the Mountains and Through the Desert, California, December 2014

There is something always intriguing to me about the desert. I'm not sure if it's the desolation, the unique scrub foliage, the vast distances with the mountains you know you'll inevitably reach or all of the above, but I really enjoy driving through the desert. . . READ MORE

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Meeting Mr. To Simplify, Glenn Morrissette, Los Angeles, California

One of the best parts of being a nomadic traveler is the people I get to meet along the way. I've met and continue to meet many very interesting and amazing people. Each of them has been uniquely different even though some share certain commonalities, such as being RVers or vandwellers, others have more traditional or very different life styles.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity of finally meeting up with someone many vandwellers are familiar with, mainly, like me, by following his blog. I've followed his blog for several years and have had several email and even a phone conversation or two over the years. But, we just never seemed to be in the same place at the same time to cross paths and ideas. Glenn and I were within about a one hour drive of one another a couple years ago when he was rolling around the east coast, but circumstances didn't allow us to come together. Well, it finally happened.

 I'm sure everyone who follows the blog of Glenn Morrissette knows his story and recognizes the red VW Vanagon pictured above. This is the 1988 Vanagon Glenn bought a couple years ago to take on as a project and turn into his third official home on wheels. 

Glenn and I met at Bud's Donut Shop in Sun Valley (Los Angeles), California to meet up, finally, to sip a beverage, enjoy an hour or so of face to face conversation and discuss matters of a light philosophical nature along with a few that were more pragmatic. It was great to press the flesh and final do some real face time with a vandwelling personality I've looked forward to meeting up with since I first began reading his blog.

The circumstances of our meeting were a bit restrictive. I, and probably he, would have probably appreciated and enjoyed it more if it had been at some nice camping location with few other folks and no traffic around. Unfortunately, My McVansion was still being worked on, so I was in a borrowed SUV from my son and Glenn was under the pressure of producing a bunch of, as he puts it, black dots on paper for musical arrangements he has been assigned to complete on a tight schedule. So, our meeting was short, but in my case, I get to check off one more of the people on my "hit" list that I'm looking to meet.

 And, of course, I got to see that Vanagon and all the work that Glenn has put into it, including the 500 watts of solar power mounted on the roof. As soon as I get My McVansion back in my hands, I'll be off and heading out to meet numerous other people on my list, RVers, vandwellers and even "normal" people (whatever that means). I currently have a rental car and I've returned to the San Joaquin Valley (central valley), more specifically the Fresno/Clovis area, to revisit friends/family out here.

Great to meet up with you, finally, Glenn. Hopefully, next time we'll do it in a more relaxed environment with time to just lay back and toss the old bull around. Thanks for getting together this time.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #197 Mandy's Coffee Shop, Hawthorne, California, January 2015

I love finding local places to eat. Chain restaurants are fine if you want the same food wherever you go, but I've had my share of that fare. So, last year I discovered Dee's Place in Sebring, Florida. This year, welcome to Mandy's Coffee Shop in Hawthorne, California. . . READ MORE

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What Is It Like To Be A Vagabond?

This is a question that is asked all the time to those, like myself, who choose to enjoy the adventure, excitement and educational experiences of life on the road. 

Recently, I was one of the subjects of a video documentary available on YouTube titled, Ed & The Aberts: Van Dweller and Cargo Conversion. Additionally, after the video footage was shot, but prior to the public release of the documentary, I was a guest, by phone, on WRVC, a Huntington, West Virginia radio station. And, the subject was vagabonding or being a nomad. 

I requested a copy of the radio interview from the station and I present it here for your listening enjoyment and hopefully your enlightenment about, at least, one of the individuals adopting such an alternative lifestyle. . . LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE